Every church has a vibe.
Your church’s atmosphere is charged with something…or nothing. When thinking about the weekend services of your church—whether in-person or streaming—I would consider five essential vibe intangibles: Participation, Energy, Accessibility, Quality and Flow. Participation Are people engaged? Are they actively listening during the teaching? Are they responding in some way during worship? Is there any attempt to assess people experiencing God in some tangible way? Was there any laughter during the teaching (Humor is a big deal: it’s a major indicator of icebreaking. I used to tell our creative team, “Theology is easy; humor is hard.”)? Were people invited in any way to respond to the Good News? Are people given an opportunity to connect further with the church in some measurable way? Energy Were the worship songs directed to God? Did the music feel more like a dirge than a celebration? Did the people on the platform (worship leader, singers, host, speakers) appear warm, authentically energetic, and loose/informal…or cold, bored, disingenuous or cheesy (even if you personally know they’re not like that)? Was the message inspirational/challenging in some way? On a scale from (1) boring or irrelevant to (10) a call-to-action or soul-touching, where was the message? Is there some sense of the presence of God? Accessibility Were the words to songs easily accessible as well as understandable? Was the language culturally-sensitive and inclusive or too “inside” and filled with buzzwords and Christianese? Were there enough descriptions and explanations of the order of the service? Was there culturally-inclusive music before and after the service? Were the announcements too much for “family insiders”? How does your hospitality team come off?—are they busy talking with each other, or targeting people like desperate used-car salespeople? Did the service come off authentically transparent? Quality How are the worship leader’s abilities (unprepared, distractingly poor or confident and genuinely worshipful)? How did the worship leader connect with the congregation?—did he or she have a good rapport and warmth or seem remote and weird? How did the worship team/choir look: bored, like they just woke up or looked at the music for the first time? How was the sound? Was the message engaging and challenging or boring and irrelevant? Was it too long, rambling, or redundant? Flow How long was the service (if you want to know how long it should be, ask your volunteers in the nursery—you’ll get an earful)? Did people leave wanting more (that’s a good sign)? Was the order of the service paced well? Was there a sense of continuity with each part? If there was a block of worship songs, did the worship leaders talk between songs? (Stop it. Please.) How long were the announcements?—people automatically tune out during this part. Believe me. Why torture them? Did the service seem connected thematically? (Really?—an up-tempo song after the message on crucifixion?) Did things feel disjointed? A final note: Of course these are subjective. But as a leader, you have to begin to benchmark them against what you want to achieve in creating invitational environments. If you don’t create and protect the vibe, believe me, someone else in your church will. I would ask an outsider to give you their honest opinion of what they experience in your service…from the time they drove into the parking lot to when they left. What culture has your church created? Better yet, what culture do you want to create?
Dave Workman | Elemental Churches
Need a tool to assess the atmosphere of your church? Check out our Vibe: “First Impressions” ReEngineering Kit.